Category Archives: Reissue

The Who (reissue) / Pete Townshend (reissue) / Roger Daltrey (new album)

Artist: The Who / Pete Townshend / Roger Daltrey

Release Date: October 04, 2019

THE WHO
Live at the Fillmore East 1968
Geffen
www.universalmusicenterprises.com

PETE TOWNSHEND
Who Came First 45th Anniversary Expanded Edition
Universal
www.universalmusicenterprises.com

ROGER DALTREY
As Long As I Have You
Republic Records
www.republic.com

 

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

Long live the Who, or at least the legacy that remains. The on-again, off-again alliance of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey notwithstanding, the band as we once knew it, with Keith Moon and John Entwistle powering that formidable rhythm section and adding the flash and finesse makes any attempt to reconvene as The Two pale in comparison.

Indeed, all that’s needed to affirm that premise is found with even a cursory listen to the archival slab of former glories belatedly released as Live at the Fillmore East. It bears witness to the seminal glory of the Who’s glory days gone by. Boasting an ample amount of seminal songs from the band’s early catalog — “I Can’t Explain,” “Happy Jack,” the early min opera and opus “A Quick One (While He’s Away,” and an entire disc devoted to an extended take on, what else, “My Generation” — it fills out the set list with the classic covers that were once given their indelible imprint — “Summertime Blues,” “Fortune Teller” and “Shakin’ All Over.” That early edge and energy, pre Tommy and any other affectations that would come soon after, makes this concert a singular stand-out that is legendary to say the least (bootlegged versions have circulated for decades), as well as one of the few archival examples of the early band live in performance. This is essential Who and a riveting example of all that assured their legendary largess and prowess,

Townshend’s first solo venture, Who Came First, began life as a tribute to his spiritual mentor Meher Baba and consisted mainly of demos of songs destined for the Who’ future catalog while still their seminal states. There were other additives thrown in full good measure — a tender take on the classic standard “There’s a Heartache Following Me” (said to be one of Baba’s Favorites), Small Face/Face bassist Ronnie Lane’s tender tale of reincarnation, “Evolution,” and other early extras that were yet to emerge fully formed. An earlier reissue added a smattering of bonus tracks, all but one of which is repeated here, but for this 45th anniversary edition, an entire disc of extra additives are included, among them, early rough takes on “The Seeker,” and instrumental version of “Baba O’Riley” and a very early version of “Drowned,” a key cut from Quadrophenia. While there was nothing especially earth shattering about Townshend’s first offering — it was more an additive to his bigger vision of the band after all — it still purveys a charm that finds Townshend in both a contemplative state and expressing a vulnerability rarely evidenced amongst the bombast and fury of the essential ensemble.

While he wrote only a smattering of songs for the Who, Roger Daltrey has put out a slew of solo albums throughout his career, venturing away from Townshend as a source for his songs and more towards other writers who also offered a seamless fit. Consequently, As Long As I Have You finds him trolling some essential soulful sources — Stevie Wonder, Joe Tex, Ruth Copeland, Jerry Ragavoy and the like — while transforming them with his individual inscription. He’s never sounded better, whether veering from an emotive testimonial  (I’ve Got Your Love”) to an ecstatic wail (“How Far”) to a soulful shout (“Where Is a Man To Go”), and the fact that Townshend is on board throughout most of the disc brings it closer to a Who album than anything else in recent memory. At very least, it’s Daltrey’s best solo effort since Ride a Rock Horse and an obvious indication he’s still in fine form. Every entry is excellent. Suffice it to say, it’s superb.

DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker,” “How Far”

THE GERMS – What We Do Is Secret [RSD Black Friday LP; blue vinyl]

Album: What We Do Is

Artist: Germs

Label: ORG Music/Rhino

Release Date: November 23, 2018

https://orgmusic.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Germs may have only released one proper studio album before frontman Darby Crash died, but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of more influential hardcore/punk rock bands to come out of that era. Everyone from the Minutemen and L7 to Soul Asylum and Pennywise owe a debt of gratitude to that Southern California band of nonconformists. So, it’s frustrating just how few songs the band managed to record during their four years together.

Thankfully, ORG Music has just re-released this gorgeous blue vinyl limited edition copy of their 1981 EP What We Do Is Secret. Originally put out in 1981, just a year after Crash’s suicide, this 7-song album pulls together live tracks recorded between 1977 and 1980. The songs are sloppy, loud, a bit amateurish, all which add to the odd brilliance of the band.

Their cover of Chuck Berry’s “Round and Round” is one of the highlights of this mini-album that hovers around the 20-minute mark. The last two songs in this collection, “The Other Newest Ones” and “My Tunnel” captures the band playing a frenetically impressive live show on December 3, 1980 at LA’s Starwood. The songs show a band that was destined for much bigger things, but sadly, Crash intentionally OD’s on heroine just a few days later.

Unlike The Eagles or Steely Dan, polished studio musicians searching for perfection, a band like The Germs were about immediacy, spontaneity, and living that ethos that anyone (literally anyone) can be in a band. And while The Eagles and Steely Dan may have found a much, much bigger audience, they manage to do so without a fraction of the passion that a band like The Germs had.

DOWNLOAD: “Round and Round,” and “The Other Sweetest One”

 

RISE AGAINST – Career (Vinyl Box Set)

Album: Career

Artist: Rise Against

Label: Interscope/Ume

Release Date: November 20, 2018

www.interscope.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

There aren’t a ton of punk rock bands outside of the greats from the late- ‘70s through early ‘80s, who are strong enough to justify a career-spanning vinyl box set. Chicago’s Rise Against though clearly have earned that distinction.

 

Raised in the indie punk scene – the band’s first two albums were released on the Fat Mike-helmed, Fat Wreck Chords – the band came about their experience the tried and true punk rock way: touring the country is a crappy van and sleeping on the floors of fans after shows. So, their jump to Geffen Records for their third effort, though it brought about some predictably, if relatively muted taunts of “Sell Out!” seemed like a natural fit for an impressive band looking for a bigger soap box to stand on.

 

Geffen, alongside UMe has collected the band’s first eight records (everything but 2018’s The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1) into one massive archival set. Each record is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and comes with a hard cover book of Rise Against’ s oral history and a slew of rare band photos. The set includes The Unraveling, Revolutions Per Minute, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, The Sufferer & The Witness, Appeal To Reason, Endgame, The Black Market and Wolves.

 

Of all the albums in the collection, their 2001 debut, The Unraveling, is fittingly enough their most uneven. There’s a powerful rawness to the songs, but singer Tim McIlrath was still finding his voice (figuratively and literally) and relied more on screams rather than the measured vocals he would perfect on later albums. The guitars, as well, slathered in distortion, don’t leave much space for any other instrument to be heard. But the band quickly learned from those mistakes in time for 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute and it’s follow-up the next year, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. The latter houses the song “Swing Away Life” which remains their most recognizable song and one of the best slow-tempo punk anthems of the 2000s. Both records are among the band’s best efforts with a more cohesive sound and powerful political lyrics that are clear enough to be heard this time around.

 

The Sufferer & The Witness, released in 2006 continued the streak of great, political punk rock, but they slipped slightly on the mediocre follow up, 2008’s Appeal To Reason. The last three entries in this collection, however – Endgame, The Black Market and last year’s Wolves – found the band back to in top form. Over the course of nearly two decades, Rise Against has slowly and methodically carved out a niche for writing savvy political anthems that move easily from modern punk folk to distorted rock, all while ignoring current music fads in favor of a formula that have managed to perfect. This gorgeous box set is the perfect acknowledgement of that dedication.

DOWNLOAD: Plenty to choose from….

SOUL ASYLUM – Say What You Will…Everything Can Happen / Made to Be Broken

January 01, 1970

Omnivore (July 20, 2018)

http://www.omnivorerecordings.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Of the eighties Big 3 of Minneapolis college rock, Soul Asylum was considered the junior partner (after Hüsker Dü and the Replacements). So it’s ironic that the scrappy young quartet became far and away the most successful. Of course, that may have simply been by virtue of sticking around – by the time Nirvana ushered in the alt.rock wave, the ‘Mats and the Dü had split and Dave Pirner’s crew was on Columbia and boasted an honest-to-top 40 hit single in the folk rocking “Runaway Train.” In a way, though, it’s not so surprising – Soul Asylum always seemed to have the most commercial instincts, if for no other reason than they had the biggest penchant for the classic rock punk hadn’t yet muscled aside. Plus they could become a (highly irreverent) top 40 cover band at the drop of a hat, so they understood what it took to gain the attention of listeners outside of the college rock circuit.

Listening to the new reissue of Say What You Will…Everything Can Happen (produced, as would be its successor, by Dü’s Bob Mould), that commercial clout is hard to hear. Not because Soul Asylum, though young and unseasoned, was a bad band. Far from it, in fact – the explosive recordings on this 1984 album show off a fledgling group already displaying signs of greatness. Like a lot of emerging rockers in the eighties, Pirner, guitarist Dan Murphy, bassist Karl Mueller and drummer Pat Torpey (replaced after these sessions by Grant Young) came out of the hardcore scene, and it shows in the band’s blazing attack and Pirner’s unhinged snarl. “Long Day,” “Happy” and “Voodoo Doll” rush to the finish line, nearly barrelling over the nascent melodies and postpunk dynamics hidden under the roar. But the band’s desire to be their own thing becomes quickly apparent. Though in rough form, “Walking” introduces the warped C&W into which Soul Asylum occasionally dipped its toes, while “Black and Blue” blends country, hardcore and postpunk into a unique blast that must have been a bitch to play. “Religiavision” pits an ambitious and wideranging set of lyrics against a knotty hard rock anthem, while “Stranger” forms the first glimpse of Pirner’s distinctive blend of sensitivity and swagger. Though possibly the purest hardcore move musically, “Sick of That Song” is the clearest signal that the band won’t be satisfied with clichés, as Pirner rages against the typical subject matter of both classic rock and punk at the time. Though hardly a classic in the Soul Asylum catalog, Say What You Will is a coarse but compelling guide to what the band would later become.

Omnivore’s edition offers up a slew of bonus tracks. The five outtakes from the album sessions (eventually released on the 1988 CD version) include the rampaging but catchy “Do You Know” and “Spacehead,” the almost self-consciously varied “Masquerade” and the furiously rocking “Broken Glass,” Murphy’s first significant contribution to the band’s repertoire. The other nine tracks constitute the group’s first demo, back when it was still known as Loud Fast Rules, and a pair of recordings, including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” under the name Proud Class Fools. Though crude, these tracks also show off the combo’s range, alternating between punk rocking crunches like “Job For Me” and “Your Clock” with brittle oddities like “Out of Style” and a rougher version of “Black and Blue.” Though there aren’t any track-by-track notes, writer Robert Vodicka’s essay sheds light on Soul Asylum’s early work.

By the time Soul Asylum released its second LP Made to Be Broken, it barely sounded like the same band. The punk fury had been replaced by old-fashioned rock & roll energy, and Pirner had developed into a dynamic, thoughtful songwriter that valued melody as much as punch. In an opening one-two-three attack,“Tied to the Tracks,” “Ship of Fools” and “Can’t Go Back” (penned by Murphy, proving himself his bandleader’s equal in the craft department, though not in prolificacy) set a standard for SA rockers thereafter: tuneful, tough, smarter than revealed on one spin, with twists in the arrangements that follow the song’s internal logic. The band continues its experiments with country music on the wistful “Never Really Been” and the crackling title track, as well as beginning a new tradition of warping heavy rock to its own purposes with “Growing Pain” and “Don’t It (Make Your Troubles Seem Small).” The group hasn’t forgotten its punk rock roots, however – cf. the breathless rush of “New Feelings” and the frenzied explosion of “Whoa!” Due to its carefully curated eclecticism and strong songwriting and arrangement skills, it’s no exaggeration to say that Made to Be Broken is the birth of Soul Asylum as we know it.

As with Say What You Will, a passel of album outtakes fill out the disk, from the fierce “Long Way Home,” “Friends” and “Hey Bird” to the goofy “Freeway” and “The Snake.” Also included are seven unsourced recordings with demo quality production and not-quite-there arrangements and performances. “Swingin’” and “Song of the Terrorist” may be useful more for fan service than potential playlist rotation, perhaps, but they’re no less oddly charming for that.

Soul Asylum would go on to make records with more acclaim and success, but its first two lay out the qualities that would get them there, making them as essential as anything in the band’s catalog.

FAST LANE TO GREATNESS: Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Red Rose Speedway”

In which Macca’s critically underrated, but commercially toppermost, 1973 album is re-assessed via UMe’s new mega-expanded edition.

BY JOHN B. MOORE

After Paul McCartney’s somewhat tepid debut with his new band, Wings, many would have forgiven him if he’d just decided to jettison his bandmates and go back to being a solo artist.

Thankfully he didn’t.

Just two years after releasing that debut, Wildlife, McCartney and Wings turned in the stunningly impressive Red Rose Speedway, up there with Band on the Run as the group’s peak of brilliance.

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) has just re-released a jaw-dropping box set version of Red Rose Speedway (along with Wildlife and a massive 11-disc Paul McCartney and Wings 1971-73).  Red Rose Speedway is a hefty 6-disc affair: 3 CDs, 2 DVDs, and 1 Blu-ray. Each limited edition box is numbered and also comes with a hardcover book, crammed with plenty of photos.

Released in 1973, just eight months before Band on the Run, Red Rose Speedway’s first single, “My Love,” put the former Beatle back in comfortable territory, reaching #1 on the U.S. charts. The song, sweet without the saccharine that used to cling to many pop love songs in the early ‘70s, still endures today. While none of the other eight tracks on the album charted, it’s still packed with some great songs, like the funky opening track, “Big Barn Bed,” and the bluesy “When the Night,” a song that gets better and better with each listen.

The limited edition deluxe includes the original record, remastered at Abbey Road (naturally!). The second and third CDs include 35 bonus tracks – most importantly – a reconstruction of the double-album version of  Red Rose Speedway (how it was originally supposed to be released), as well as various singles, B-sides, alternate mixes and a handful of previously unreleased tracks. In addition, the aforementioned DVDs plus the Blu-ray boast rare and, in many cases, previously unseen, footage. Of particular interest is “Live and Let Die,” filmed live in Liverpool, and the James Paul McCartney TV Special and The Bruce McMouse Show.

As if this massive cache of audio and video weren’t enough, they also come with a folio containing 14 replica hand-drawn original character sketches by McCartney (very cool!) and facsimile dialogue sheets for the film. The hardcover book houses some previously unpublished images by Linda McCartney, plus expanded album and single artwork from the archives, and the story behind the album. The book alone is a brilliant keepsake.

Finally, a proper re-release for one of Wings’ greatest records—which, by our critical rating system, rates a 5-stars-out-of-5. Believe it.

BOBBY FULLER FOUR – Magic Touch: The Complete Mustang Singles

Album: Magic Touch: The Complete Mustang Singles

Artist: Bobby Fuller Four

Label: Cherry Red

Release Date: November 30, 2018

www.cherryred.co.uk

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

Bobby Fuller was from my hometown of El Paso Texas, and I came to know this in the most roundabout of ways. After college I was hell-bent on landing a job in the music industry and given my China interest I found myself in Hong Kong for the Reed Midem music convention. I was also poor as a church mouse at the time and couldn’t afford the $200.00 entrance fee, so I did the next best thing and snuck in. I walked around giving out my resume and met people from a variety of international labels, picked up loads of swag, all the while trying to keep an eye out for security guards.

Eventually I made my way to the Del-Fi Records table and met Bob Keane*, surf music impresario and Bobby Fuller’s producer. He had a Hawaiian shirt on and told me that he might just have a job for me and said I should come to the LA office and discuss it. He wanted to create a sales a promotion office out in Hong Kong.  I caught a courier flight to LA and recall working out in my immature mind what sort of salary I’d ask for and worked out a rudimentary business plan of sorts. Then came my meeting at Del Fi records which was somewhere in the vicinity of Sunset Boulevard, and a smiling Bob Keane came out and invited me into his office and proceeded to burst every illusion I had about what this job might be. Dollar symbols quickly began to melt in front of me and on the way out of his office, crestfallen and all, I met his Director of Promotions, Elliot “Le Hot Show” Kendall, who showed me a mockup of a Bobby fuller box set they were working on and seeing as I was from El Paso he showed me the liner notes which were written by El Paso DJ extraordinaire Steve Crosno. I eventually made my way into the harsh LA light and caught a bus back to my friend’s home, completely deflated by the experience. I mention all of this because in the ensuing years Bob Keane and his staff stayed in touch sending me music and occasionally shooting the shit over email.

I jumped at the chance to take a listen to the latest compilation of Bobby Fuller’s music. This release covers all of his Mustang singles and is a real joy to listen to. You can see that Bob Keane tried to temper the rougher hewn elements of Bobby’s music not always to the greatest of results. My favorite songs like, “My Favorite Martian”, “I Fought the Law”, “Let Her Dance” and “Never to be Forgotten” are here for the listening and are sprinkled in between weaker numbers like “She’s my Girl” that tried to capitalize on the romantic schmaltz of the time. “You Kiss Me” is trying to be Elvis Presley, with its shuffle beat and vibrato vocals.

For me, Bobby Fuller’s greatest music is when he lets his rougher tendencies shine through and that I sense is what Bob Keane tried to rein in on several of these numbers. The CD has some amazing liner notes by Andrew Sandoval and the music is presented in its original mono format. I recall that “I fought the law” was number one close in time to when The Beatles came to America and that the titanic shift that caused was a heavy blow to Bobby Fuller. It’s a compilation like this that shows why he’ll “Never to be Forgotten” by music lovers worldwide.

DOWNLOAD: “My Favorite Martian”, “I Fought the Law” , “Let Her Dance”, “Never to be Forgotten”

*Ed. Note: For readers with sharp eyesight, check out the text on the album sleeve, above, and for a cheap thrill, note the spelling of the aforementioned Mr. Keane’s name.

 

THE POSIES – Dear 23 / Frosting On the Beater

Album: Dear 23 / Frosting on the Beater

Artist: Posies

Label: Omnivore

Release Date: August 03, 2018

http://www.omnivorerecordings.com

The Upshot: A pair of power pop classics that helped make the grunge-encrusted tail end of the 20th Century just a little more bearable.

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Ah, the Posies. With a seemingly bottomless bag of hooks and sentiments that veered easily between clever and heartfelt (and often both at once), the Bellingham/Seattle band should be mentioned in the same breath as luminaries like ELO, Cheap Trick and Big Star and contemporaries Jellyfish (and its spinoffs), Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet. Instead the group had the mixed fortune of hailing from the grunge mecca that inaugurated the era of “alternative rock.” Certainly, the Posies didn’t suffer, garnering a sheaf of rave reviews and plenty of fans, even if they never quite broke out the way their champions hoped. But being one of the leading lights of the nineties alt.rock boom somehow keeps them out of the halls of the power pop masters, or at least the main wing – a minor mischaracterization, to be sure, but one that seems to put them on the bottom rung of a ladder they’ve long since climbed.

And as uncool as it may be to say it, the Posies were at their best during their major label era. Not that the rest of the band’s indie catalog isn’t delightful, but it was their three-album stint on Geffen Records subsidiary DGC that really put the band on the map. Whether that was due to the influx of corporate cash that allowed them to hire top flight producers and get great sound or simply due to the rush of singing and songwriting excellence pouring out of chief Posies Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow then is up for debate (we tend to lean toward the latter, though it’s probably some of both). Regardless, the trilogy of Dear 23, Frosting on the Beater and Amazing Disgrace – the first two of which having just been reissued – is not only the best work of the band, but some of the best guitar/power pop of the twentieth century.

Dear 23, the Posies’ second album, made a splash when it was first released in 1990, but under somewhat false pretenses. By this time the band had evolved from Auer and Stringfellow’s bedroom duo into a scrappy four-piece rock & roll outfit with bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger, but that wasn’t reflected in the grooves. Instead, producer John Leckie (XTC, Thee Hypnotics, Stone Roses) augmented the arrangements with layers of acoustic guitars for an almost folk rock feel, and added his signature psychedelic wash to the mix, making the entire record nearly sound like it comes from another continent. The results may not have been true to the Posies’ live sound, but it works like gangbusters with the songs. The massive-sounding acoustics form a wall on which the glorious anthem “Any Other Day” is painted, while the folk rock sheen fits perfectly with the bittersweet “Suddenly Mary.” “Golden Blunders” and “My Big Mouth” transcend the designation “power pop” with bright hooks and creamy harmonies, while “Mrs. Green” revels in gentle acid psychedelia when it’s not rocking out. “You Avoid Parties” and “Everyone Moves Away” strip things back down to the original duo, coming off like big-league version of Auer and Stringfellow’s cassette recordings, while “Flood of Sunshine” becomes a widescreen, lighter-waving singalong with unexpected guitar heroics. A few awkward lyrics aside, mainly in mispronunciations necessary to fit rhyme schemes, there’s not a bum note played or sung or a track worth skipping.

As with most Omnivore reissues, this one includes generous extras. The number of bonus tracks is staggering, taking up a third of disk one and all of disk two, with a big ol’ bucket of demos (including two of “Apology,” one version from each songwriter), covers of Big Star and the Hollies, some otherwise unreleased tunes, and the original version of “Will You Ever Ease Your Mind,” which wouldn’t reach full flower until Amazing Disgrace. There’s also an enthusiastic essay from Craig Dorman and, best of all, track-by-track commentary from Auer and Stringfellow that enlightens the original songs.

For 1993’s Frosting on the Beater, the Posies hired Gumball/Velvet Monkeys leader Don Fleming to give them a muscular sonic aesthetic more in keeping with their live shows. While some critics and fans accused them of trying to come to terms with their hometown grunge (as if there weren’t dozens of former college rockers trying to do the same thing at the same time), for the band it was simply a closer reflection of their original aim. In that light, this is probably the purest of their power pop moves – loud guitars, big melodies and hooks, a simmering energy set to explode any moment. The record contains some of their catchiest and most blazing rockers: “Flavor of the Month,” “Definite Door,” the nearly hitbound “Dream All Day,” the irresistible “Solar Sister.” The rest of the record is not the easy listen of prior work, as Auer and Stringfellow began exploring knottier melodies that don’t throw hooks right into the listener’s faces. The results are mixed – some songs simply don’t stick to the ribs as strongly as the band’s best. But others – “Burn & Shine,” the enigmatic and atmospheric “Coming Right Along” – prove themselves worthy of any Posies hall of fame, and the best tracks make Frosting as essential as its predecessor.

As with Dear 23, this two-disk version overflows with bounty, including another wave of demos and unreleased songs and sterling liner notes. It’s worth noting that a large portion of the extra tracks were originally released on the box set At Least At Last, but given how long out of print and expensive on the secondhand market that project is, that’s hardly a sin. Frosting on the Beater 2.0 is another excellent reissue and an indicator that the upcoming take on Amazing Disgrace will also be something special.

DOWNLOAD: “Any Other Way,” “Flood of Sunshine,” “Golden Blunders,” “Solar Sister,” “Dream All Day,” “Flavor of the Month,”

 

JUDEE SILL – Judee Sill / Heart Food / Songs of Rapture and Redemption

Album: Judee Sill / Heart Food / Songs of Rapture and Redemption (LPs)

Artist: Judee Sill

Label: Intervention / Run Out Groove

Release Date: July 27, 2018

www.interventionrecords.com / www.runoutgroovevinyl.com

The Upshot: Late songstress gets a welcome reintroduction via deluxe vinyl reissues of her two studio albums plus a new collection of live and rare material.

BY FRED MILLS

As is often the case with artists who have passed on, legacy begets legend. And while 1970s songstress Judee Sill’s impact during her short life was minimal before her death, at 35, of a drug overdose—she was probably better known for being the first signing to David Geffen’s Asylum Records, and for having Graham Nash produce her single ”.Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” than for any measurable commercial inroads—she would go on to inspire subsequent generations of singer-song­writers. A trifecta of new archival releases amply demonstrates why her reputation as an immaculate, gifted songstress has steadily grown over the years.

In 2004, 4 Men With Beards reissued on vinyl both her eponymous debut (1971) and Heart Food (1973), while 2003 and 2005 brought remastered CDs on Rhino Handmade and the Water Music label, respectively. Now comes archival specialist In­tervention, which has recently worked wonders with audiophile reissues of Stealers Wheel, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Everclear, and Joe Jackson, with its own vinyl take on the two records. The results are revelatory. Intervention was granted access to the original analog masters so that Grammy-winning mastering engineer Kevin Gray, of Cohearent Audio, could work his all-­analog magic. They then pressed each album on two 180-gram, 45rpm discs, and printed the original artwork on Stoughton “tip-on” gatefold sleeves.

The new Judee Sill is richly illustrative of both artist and artifact, if a bit of a period piece. It’s reminiscent in places of early Joni Mitchell, particularly in ”Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” a slice of mid-tempo piano pop subtly lined with chamber strings; the straightforward folk of “Crayon Angels,” with its oboe melody; and another of several evoca­tions of Jesus, the strummy “My Man on Love.” Elsewhere are some more fleshed-out compositions, orchestra­tions courtesy Don Bagley and Bob Harris; it’s in lush numbers such as “The Archetypal Man” that Gray’s fresh mastering is showcased, revealing a surround-sound depth to the tune’s almost Bach-like arrangement that I don’t hear on the 2005 CD.

For several reasons, Heart Food is the better album. It clearly benefits from Sill’s presumably being more comfortable in the studio two years on, and boasts an impressive roster of 25 “name” musicians, among them keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitar­ist Doug Dillard, pedal-steel legend Buddy Emmons, bassist Chris Etheridge, and drummer Jim Gordon. And the complexity of Sill’s composi­tions has taken a quantum leap. For this album she also wrote the orches­trations, allowing for both a diversity of scope and an internal cohesion that suggested that she was going for more than simply getting a collection of disparate songs down on tape. Heart Food glows from the outset, its highlights including the sweet, coun­try-tinged (fiddle and steel), lyrically evocative “There’s a Rugged Road,” in which Sill indulges her familiar passion for Christian themes; the delightfully lush “The Kiss,” with an arrangement worthy of Brian Wilson; and the nine-­minute piano epic ”The Donor,” which is suite-like in structure, breathtaking, like CSN&Y singing gospel.

Gray’s remastering, too, will take your breath away. One example: Listening to ”The Donor” is like sitting in a cathedral, bathing in the enveloping voices of a choir, each piano note’s attack and decay as palpable as if you were seated on the bench beside the pianist. Ultimately, Heart Food is a timeless and deeply nourishing musical feast.

Songs of Rapture and Redemption: Rarities & Live arrives courtesy Run Out Groove, whose specialty is deluxe vinyl reissues (check my review of the Dream Syndicate’ The Complete Live at Raji’s 2LP set, which was released last year) and, in some cases, unique titles such as this one. Sides A and B are made up of live material recorded in Boston in ’71, and the seven tracks originally surfaced as bonus material on the 2003 Rhino Handmade Judee Sill; sides C and D are demos and outtakes originally included as bonus material from the two Sill CDs on Handmade. So while the material itself is not unreleased, this marks the first time it’s ever appeared on vinyl, and Run Out Groove has gone the extra mile by pressing the two LPs on swirly magenta vinyl (180-gram, natch) and housing them in a glossy-textured Stoughton sleeve—each set is individually numbered.

The live tracks are delightful, a beautifully recorded document of Sill in her to-brief prime, just the songwriter and her guitar plus, on the seven-minute “As Enchanted Sky Machines,” piano. The track “The Lamb Ran Away with the Crown” is one obvious standout, the Judee Sill number nearly aglow with passion. Among the demos, “Jesus Was a Cross Maker” is a fascinating early glimpse as a song that would go on to be, arguably, the artist’s most famous song. Equally fascinating: reading the liner notes, which are a transcribed conversation between the album’s co-producer, Pat Thomas, and the late Sill’s best friend and collaborator, Tommy Peltier, in which Peltier offers memories of the singer and observations about each track.

All in all, a must-own for any fan of Judee Sill even if they already own the Handmade CDs.

DOWNLOAD: Judee Sill & Heart Food: ”Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” “The Archetypal Man,” “There’s a Rugged Road,” “The Donor”  

 

Songs of Rapture and Redemption: “Lady-O” and “The Lamb Ran Away with the Cross” (both live), “The Desperado” (outtake), “The Pearl” (demo)

TRUCK STOP LOVE – Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994

Album: Can't Hear It: 1991-1994

Artist: Truck Stop Love

Label: Black Site Records

Release Date: November 17, 2017

https://black-site.org/

BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS

Manhattan, Kansas is not the first place one would conjure when thinking of rock and roll. It may not be Memphis, Seattle, New York or Los Angeles but it did give us Truck Stop Love.

Blending the textures of Bob Mould’s post- Husker Du project Sugar, the country punk swagger of Uncle Tupelo, the aggressiveness of “Sorry, Ma” era Replacements, KISS, Big Star, the pop sensibilities of The Lemonheads and the jangly goodness of Matthew Sweet, Truck  Stop Love created a sound that was truly theirs, an amalgamation described as “pop thrash” on the band’s Facebook page, Truck Stop Love made a thunderous racket in the days when country music, coupled with a blistering wall of guitars and punk rock aggression , became a monster of a movement all its own: a giant named Alt-country.

Bands like Soul Asylum, the country fried fuzz rock of The Meat Puppets and the great Dinosaur Jr., the straight ahead rock n roll of fellow Midwesterners The Replacements or the booze soaked alternative country of Jason and the Scorchers, Truck Stop Love borrowed a little bit of these, a splash here, a dollop there, all coming together triumphantly with “Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994”, a collection of demos and unreleased tracks, recently released by Kansas City, Missouri based label Black Site Records.

Truck Stop Love (the band recently reformed to headline the yearly rock and roll weekend Lawrence Field Day Fest in Lawrence, Kansas), were a band that could hang with the big boys of the time, a foot stomping rock band from the middle of Kansas making music that, even today, twenty five years on, demands to be heard by those of us that miss the Holy Trinity: bass, Drums, guitar.

Re-mastered and produced by former Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock, Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994 shows a band at the height of its musical powers, standing among some of the best of the time and writing songs that sound as fresh today as they did when they were first recorded, some over two decades ago; the multiple guitar attack of “Townie,” rings true, making the song a hybrid creature of Springsteen, Son Volt, The Bottlerockets and The Descendents; singing the lament of small-town life, the boredom, the loneliness, of Saturday nights spent drunk in the high school parking lot, avoiding the sheriff (I speak from personal experience here).  Truck Stop Love, to me were and are, accessible in a way that too many bands today sadly, will never be.  Truck Stop Love grasped onto their roots, the influence of both the times in which they lived and from those of their youth.  “Can’t Hear It’ is the sound of young guys, pissed at the world, making music, channeling what is around them into a thing to share with anyone who’ll take the time to listen, all while trying to clean out the bar.  If that’s not punk rock, I don’t know what is.

Can’t Hear It chronicles a great band that should’ve made it to the top but, for some reason, didn’t.  Do yourself a favor and re-discover Truck Stop Love with Can’t Hear It: 1991-1994, I’m glad I did.

DOWNLOAD: “Townie” “How I Spent my Summer Vacation” “River Mountain Love”

Incoming: Shoes “Black Vinyl Shoes” 3CD Deluxe Edition

Our favorite power pop band, bar none, gets set to kill it again with archival release.

By Blurt Staff

Power pop icons Shoes – who killed it at our 2013 SXSW day party in Austin – have their iconic LP debut Black Vinyl Shoes vastly expanded as a 3CD set on August 31 from Britain’s Cherry Red label, one of the planet’s most reliable archival sources. From Cherry Red:

First issued in 1977 on the band’s own label but not widely available until it was reissued in 1978, SHOES’ first album proper, Black Vinyl Shoes, is an absolute classic of US Power Pop, characterised by gorgeous, Byrds-style chiming guitars, wistful, melancholy melodies and wonderful harmonies. To coincide with the 40th anniversary (ish!) of this landmark record, Cherry Red are proud to present this 3-CD deluxe edition of Black Vinyl Shoes, reconfigured to present – almost – the complete recordings of the band from their embryonic home demos in 1973 through to tracks laid down on the eve of their deal with Elektra Records in 1979. These include the entire Black Vinyl Shoes album, their privately-pressed 1975 album One In Versailles, the 1975 recordings which were unissued at the time but belatedly presented as Bazooka, two tracks from their mythical 1974 LP Heads Or Tails, their one-off single for Bomp! And a handful of previously unissued tracks. Coordinated with the original band members, Black Vinyl Shoes boasts lengthy (8,000-word) sleeve-notes by David Wells, remastered sound quality and a sizeable booklet awash with rare images from the period.

Full track listing for this amazing, long-awaited collection, is below. Meanwhile, check out our 2015 profile of the band, a lengthy interview with cofounder Jeff Murphy by Blurt’s archival guru Dave Steinfeld.

DISC ONE:
BLACK VINYL SHOES
1. BOYS DON’T LIE
2. DO YOU WANNA GET LUCKY?
3. SHE’LL DISAPPEAR
4. TRAGEDY
5. WRITING A POSTCARD
6. NOT ME
7. SOMEONE FINER
8. CAPITAL GAIN
9. FATAL
10. RUNNING START
11.OKAY
12. IT REALLY HURTS
13. FIRE FOR AWHILE
14. IF YOU’D STAY
15. NOWHERE SO FAST

BONUS TRACKS
16. CAPITAL OFFENSE
17. SHE’LL DISAPPEAR (Demo) *
18. LUCKY TAIL
19. I WANNA HIDE
20. TOMORROW NIGHT (Bomp! Version)
21. OKAY (Bomp! Version)
22. I’LL TAKE YOU AWAY
23. FULL BITE
24. BABY’S GONE
25. EVER AGAIN
26. LIKE I TOLD YOU (Second Version) *
27. KAREN (Acoustic Demo) *
28. I’LL TAKE YOU AWAY (Alternative Version) *

* previously unissued

DISC TWO:
BAZOOKA
1. PINHEADS
2. MOVE IT OR LOSE IT
3. ROCK YOUR OWN
4. ALONG WITH LOVE
5. LOVE TOOK A TURN
6. ALONE BUT SATISFIED 7. NEW MEAT
8. I’M BRAZEN
9. THE ATLANTIC
10. MY ANISETTE
11. SNAP!
12. EDUCATED
13. LIKE I TOLD YOU BONUS TRACK
14. I CAN MAKE IT (Demo) *
* previously unissued

DISC THREE:
ONE IN VERSAILLES
1. DANCE IN YOUR SLEEP
2. DOIGETSOSHY
3. UN DANS VERSAILLES
4. KRISTINE
5. SOMETHING I CAN’T SEE
6. EGGROLL ROCK
7. SONG FOR HER
8. ONE NIGHT
9. NO, I DON’T
10. THE SUN
11. ONE IN VERSAILLES
12. BANJO

BONUS TRACKS
13. MY HUSBAND’S HOME!
14. NOTHING MEANS MORE
15. I’D LIKE TO TAKE YOU OUT AGAIN (from “Heads or Tails”, 1974) *
16. ROCK’N’ROLL FREAK
* previously unissued